Refugees & Conflict Resolution In Ghana

A project sponsored by the American Public University System
struggling to survive in a new land
The country of Togo neighbors Ghana to the east and has been a place of conflict since it gained independence in 1960. Togo's population of 6 million people is composed of more than 20 ethnicities. The two major groups are the Ewe in the south and the Kabye in the north. Although Togo adopted a democratic form of government in 1961, there was a military coup in 1967. Over the years there have been numerous civil conflicts, often resulting in an influx of refugees from Togo to neighboring countries. Some of the displaced have returned in times of peace, but once again were forced to flee when fighting resumed. In the past few decades, the people of Togo have lived in fear of the government and police, who are known to administer beatings and shootings regardless of the victim's age or sex. The most recent conflict began in 2005 when deeply flawed elections were marred by violence and widespread accusations of vote tampering, which resulted in violence that caused tens of thousands of Togolese to flee to neighboring Benin and Ghana. Although currently the violence has subsided, there are still many reports of human rights violations and many refugees are afraid to return home for fear the violence will break out once again. This situation is common and found in many other countries in the world that have experienced civil war and atrocities, such as Sierra Leone and Rwanda. Through my interviews with Togolese refugees, I developed a greater understanding of the immense adversity refugees face in their daily struggle to provide food and shelter for their families. I can only hope that peace will be a permanent condition in Togo one day and the Togolese people will be able to prosper.
Togo Refugees Part I: Kwasi & His Family
My first experience with a refugee from Togo was with Kwasi, a deaf mute who is also an aspiring rapper. Although I could not conduct an interview with Kwasi in a traditional sense, we spent quite a bit of time together during my time in Ghana and we became friends. At first, I did not know he was a refugee, but one day he brought pictures to me that showed Kwasi with friends and family in Togo. My neighbor Joseph, a smart and talented 10-year old boy who was looking at the photos with us, was quite adept at understanding Kwasi and explained to me that Kwasi had escaped from Togo several years ago. The time I spent with Kwasi led me to explore his story and later resulted in the interview below that I conducted with Kwasi's family.
Kwasi, an aspiring rapper from Togo
Kwasi with his brother and friend in Togo
Video of Kwasi, a deaf mute and aspiring rapper, who escaped from Togo five years ago with his family and now lives in Medie, Ghana.
Kwasi in Togo before his family escaped to Ghana
Below is the interview I conducted on July 27, 2009 in Medie with Kwasi's family, who escaped from Togo five years ago. (The father stated in our interview that they escaped from Togo fifteen years ago, however I later learned this was a language error. The family actually fled from Togo five years ago.) Since their escape from Togo, they have struggled to survive and due to the current economic situation in Ghana, no one in the family has been able to find work. Today their fifteen-member family lives together in one room (pictured to the right). This interview explores the family's escape from Togo, the struggles they face trying to survive in a new country, and their hopes and plans for the future. The translation for this interview was kindly provided by Sulley Imoro, a good friend and renowned Dagbon drummer, dancer and singer.
Interview with Kwasi's family
Kwasi's family in front of the one room they share with their family of 15 people
Please wait for the file to download.

When I asked the family what could make their lives better, the father told me that one of his sons is a tailor, but he does not have a sewing machine or shop to start a business. If the son could start a small tailor business, then the younger children could go to school and any additional income could be used to help other family members. I told him I would try to raise the funds to start this business, which I learned after further research would cost approximately $1500. The funds to start this business would be given within a micro-loan structure and when the money is paid back, it will be used for another micro-loan to help someone else to start a business. If you would like to donate to this or other micro-loan projects in Ghana, please contact Any support is greatly appreciated and 100% of all money raised will be used to assist Togo refugees living in Medie.

Togo Refugees Part II: Mothers and Babies without a Home
On July 23, 2009, I conducted another interview in Medie with Esther and Gladys, two young women who escaped from Togo a few years ago. Neither woman has been able to find work in Ghana. Each also has given birth to a baby since leaving Togo and is raising her child alone. This interview discusses the problems they face on a daily basis to provide food and shelter for their children and the things they have been forced to do to support their babies. We also spoke about their dreams for the future and what could be done to help improve their lives for themselves and their children.
Togolese refugees with Moses Emerson & his wife
Interview with Togolese refugee women
Please wait for the file to download.
Gladys Futri and her daughter Bernice
How We Can Help

When I asked Gladys what could make her life better, she said she has the skills to make bread, but did not have the money to buy the bread-baking oven necessary to start this small business. The total cost to start her bread-baking business is $300, which seems like such a small amount to change someone's life, so I told Gladys I would try to raise the funds to start her business. So far, I have raised $150 of the $300 necessary to start her bread-baking business. This money will be invested according to micro-loan principles and Moses Emerson, a local principal of a school for needy children, will be following up to make sure the supplies are purchased as planned and to monitor the business periodically. The concept of this project is to have funding recipients pay back their initial loan and then use that money to provide another micro-loan to help someone else start another business. If you would like make a donation towards the purchase of a bread oven or contribute to other micro-loan projects like the one described on the Displaced Dagombans page, please contact Support is greatly appreciated and 100% of all money raised will be used to assist Togolese and Dagomban refugees living in Ghana.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation goes to Kwasi, his family, Gladys and Esther who so generously shared their stories with me. I also would like to thank Moses Emerson, featured in the Peacekeeping section of this website, for hosting and arranging the interviews with the Togolese women. The compassion and generosity given by Moses is an inspiration to all humans.

2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Togo. US Department of State. July 27, 2009.

 “20,000 flee new Togo violence.” New York Times. May 10, 2005.

Amnesty International Report 2009 - Togo. Amnesty International. May 28, 2009.

CIA – The World Factbook - Togo

Freedom in the World 2009 – Togo. July 16, 2009.

Global Majority "promoting peace through dialogue"

"Guinah's story." Refugee Council Online.

Human Rights Report: Togo - 2008.

Immigration Statistics 2009: Refugees from Togo

McLure, Jason. “Hooked on Aid: When wars end, refugees don't always go home.” Newsweek. November 23, 2009.

Press frets over Togo unrest.” BBC News. May 1, 2005.

Sakyi-Addo, Kwaku. “Impressions of Togo after the ‘coup.'” BBC News. February 18. 2005.

Togo refugee outflow. UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, Briefing Notes. May 17, 2005. 

Togo: Refugees beginning returning home but many still reluctant.” IRIN: Humanitarian News and Analysis (part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). November 25, 2009.

Togo refugees flood Kadzebi, Hohoe districts.” Ghana News Agency. April 30, 2005.

Togo refugees still flow into Benin, Ghana.” Afro News. November 24, 2009.

UNHCR Report – Togo. Researched and compiled by the Refugee Documentation Centre of Ireland. July 27, 2009.